The Sustainable Energy Project is a non-profit research and demonstration organization aimed at helping manage the transition from today’s top-down central-utility paradigm toward tomorrow’s decentralized paradigm, including extensive use of sustainable energy systems. Future sustainable energy systems may have several components, including: renewable electricity generation, space heating, and process heat; energy storage; automated "smart" meters, controls and thermostats; electric vehicles with both charge and discharge capability; and extensive communication systems and capability. Sustainable energy systems could be deployed on individual residences and businesses, or at the community or regional scale - posing the opportunity to redefine how energy consumers or their agents would interact both physically and institutionally with existing utilities. Sustainable energy systems could also allow consumers to self-provide all their energy, raising the possibility of homes, businesses, and entire communities leaving the utility grid.
Sustainable energy systems offer considerable promise - safer, more reliable, environmentally benign, and economic sources of electricity. But they also offer controversy - the ability for customers to leave the utility grid if they choose, and the threat grid flight poses to existing utilities and energy companies, their employees, shareholders, and stranded ratepayers. SEP's goal is to facilitate a smooth, measured, and well-informed transition from today's utility infrastructure vested in the technologies of the last two centuries, toward a new infrastructure designed to embrace and encourage the technologies of today and the future. Our role will be to identify major trends in the sustainable energy field, asses the probable barriers and challenges they will provoke (political, technical, and regulatory), and facilitate an objective, fact and research-driven dialogue to asses impacts, mitigate conflicts and minimize barriers to entry.